Ah! Time management! In the fall, many people find they’re engaging in a race against time as they take on new projects, a new job or new clients, and try to balance work and family life… the whirlwind of life becomes work. If you are finding yourself buried by a frantic pace, are stressed and perpetually wishing for more time in a day, I have some tried-and-tested tips that will help.
First, stop looking at time as your enemy. It’s all about perspective, so turn time into your ally. Stop perceiving it as a hindrance to your life and learn to tame time.
Albert Einstein said: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” In other words, we should adopt a new way of thinking if the old way created problems. I would add to this, adopt a new set of habits.
Are you ready to make time management and prioritization a positive habit? This article will demystify how to optimize your time!
Time management involves managing priorities
Do you have the right tools to manage your time and prioritize your activities? I’m not talking about an agenda or smart phone calendar. No, I’m talking about YOUR personal tools, that is to say, your ability to think before acting, to analyze, to calculate the time required to accomplish your tasks, to delegate and, most importantly, to discipline yourself.
Here is the 3-step technique that I recommend.
STEP # 1 – ANALYZE YOUR TASKS
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are all of my tasks?
- Why do I do what I do?
- What are the results?
- What would I do instead (or as well) if I had more time?
STEP # 2 – ESTABLISH PRIORITIES
After this investigation into your activities, you need to then categorize and rank them according to their level of importance. Fit them into slots of 15 minutes, taking into account the responses in Step 1.
Assign a letter system to your activities as follows :
A – High-yield activities (important activities; can be moved only once!)
B – Secondary activities
D – Activities that can be delegated to someone else
S – Social activities, talking to co-workers, surfing the Web, etc.
W – Activities to eliminate (the time-wasters)
It’s a safe bet that you will have many “A” activities (examples: meeting a client, signing a contract, working on a deliverable, etc.). This is normal, especially among managers and business leaders. You should then make an effort to prioritize your A activities (A-1, A-2, A-3, etc.) by order of importance. These are must-do’s. The “B”s are still important, but there is more flexibility to re-order and re-prioritize these depending on your A activities.
Remember that the “importance” should take precedence over the so-called “emergency” time management. If your emergencies take more than 20% of your time, it’s time to address the causes of why you have so many emergency tasks!
Limit time spent on social activities, delegate to others where possible, and absolutely delete time-wasters from your agenda.
The Pareto Law as Applied to Time Management
The Pareto Law, which is also called the 80/20 rule, offers some very revealing insight if you apply it to time management and priorities. Pareto’s Law implies that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, 20% of your activities will earn 80% of your results. Target these activities! It is these high-yield activities that will have a considerable impact on your results.As for the “C” activities, “D” and “E”, juggle them and, please, if futile, do not spend their time!
STEP # 3 – OUTSMART YOUR HABITS
Keep in mind that, very often, we spend our time doing what we do instead of doing what we should do.
As humans we naturally tend to put first:
- What we enjoy doing before what we dislike doing
- What can be done quickly before what takes more time
- What we can do easily before what is more difficult for us
- What is urgent before what is important
- What others want instead of what we have chosen ourselves to do
Learn to defeat these bad habits, which usually contribute to time-wasting. Instead, prioritize the activities that are really important. Your success depends on it.